MLS lost one of their all-time greats on Tuesday as Pablo Mastroeni retired on Tuesday ending his illustrious 16 year playing career.
A hard-charging field general in central midfield, Mastroeni calls full time on a career that saw him suit up for the Miami Fusion, Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy while making 334 MLS regular season appearances (eighth all-time in league history), playing 27,522 minutes and earning 316 starts (both fifth most all-time). The veteran defensive midfielder was also a fixture on the U.S. National Team for nearly a decade as he made appearances in the 2006 and 2006 FIFA World Cups making a total of five appearances. However, he also played in four CONCACAF Gold Cups—winning in 2005 and 2007 –as well as making an appearance at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2003.
My lasting memories of Mastroeni stem from the grit that he showcased on the field breaking up opposition attacks and the eloquence that he displayed when answering questions from journalists. A remembrance of Mastroeni’s career is not complete without discussing his confident performance in the U.S. historic 2-0 victory over Mexico in the 2002 FIFA World Cup round of 16 as he befuddled El Tri’s Cuauhtémoc Blanco and his ability to lead the Colorado Rapids to the 2010 MLS Cup.
During his brief time with the Galaxy, it was always interesting to see him impart his advice on the club’s young players of all positions -- like Jack McBean who actually lived with Mastroeni in Manhattan Beach toward the end of the season -- who were eager to learn from a league great.
What’s next for Mastroeni? The tough as nails yet cerebral midfielder could head into coaching in some capacity with the Colorado Rapids. With his family still in Colorado, Mastroeni could spread his extensive knowledge of the game while also staying close to home. The Rapids have stated that they intend to honor Mastroeni for his service to their club at a ceremony during one of their home matches in 2014.
But no matter what Mastroeni decides to do with the next stage of his life, he’ll always be remembered as one of the league’s greats.
Below are some memories from a few others from around the league:
Pablo Mastroeni was someone you wanted on your team both on the field and off because he made it that much more worth it. #legend
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) December 10, 2013
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) December 10, 2013
Probably nobody in the sport that I respect more than Pab's. What an honor to play next to a legend. My Captain forever... #ThanksPablo
— Drew Moor (@drewmoor) December 10, 2013
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) December 10, 2013
What’s your favorite Pablo Mastroeni memory?
Share them below.
LA Galaxy Academy forward Haji Wright scored in the U.S. Under-17's 2-1 defeat to Portugal at the Nike International Friendlies on Monday.
Wright scored in the 13th minute to give the U.S. a lead, but the Europeans quickly answered with a goal in the 27th minute to tie the score. Portugal took the lead for good in stoppage time to defeat the Americans.
The U.S. return to action on Wednesday against England who fell 2-1 to Brazil in their first match.
LA Galaxy Academy product Haji Wright has been called up for the U.S. Under-17's roster for the upcoming 2013 Nike International Friendlies.
U.S. U-17 head coach Richie Williams' 20-man group will face Portugal on Monday before matches against England on Dec. 11 and Brazil on Dec. 13 at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood, Florida. It is Wright's second inclusion in the U.S. U-17 roster in less than a month as he took part in the nation's U-17's friendlies with Canada in November.
The roster includes eight players from California.
The complete roster is below...
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond Strikers; Mechanicsville, Va.), Kevin Silva (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7): Hugo Arellano (Chivas USA Academy; Norwalk, Calif.), Daniel Barbir (Unattached; Allentown, Pa.), George Braima (Crew Soccer Academy; Columbus, Ohio), Edwin Lara (unattached; San Leandro, Calif.), John Nelson (Internationals; Medina, Ohio), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy; Trenton, N.J.), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Luca De La Torre (Fulham; San Diego, Calif.), Thomas McCabe (PDA; South Orange, N.J.), Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; St. Louis, Mo), Brian Zelaya (De Anza Force; San Mateo, Calif.), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas Academy; El Paso, Texas)
FORWARDS (5): Pierre Da Silva (New York Soccer Club; Port Chester, N.Y.), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey FC; San Diego, Calif.), Joshua Perez (unattached; La Habra, Calif.), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Haji Wright (LA Galaxy Academy); Los Angeles, Calif.
On Friday, I told you that the U.S. National Team's draw into Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil isn't an impossible one, and LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena seems to agree.
In his latest article in the Los Angeles Times, Arena states that the U.S. will be competitive and even states that he expects them to advance from the Group.
Arena's choices to advance from the groups are as followed, but remember they are not necessarily the positions that the teams will finish.
Group A: Brazil and Croatia. Group B: Spain and Netherlands. Group C: Colombia and Ivory Coast. Group D: Uruguay and Italy. Group E: Ecuador and France. Group F: Argentina and Nigeria. Group G: Germany and United States. Group H: Belgium and Russia.
Arena's choices several months out led me to make my own decisions which you can see below. Now remember that these could -- and probably will -- change as the months go by.
Group A: Brazil and Mexico. Group B: Spain and Netherlands. Group C: Colombia and Japan. Group D: Uruguay and Italy. Group E: France and Honduras. Group F: Argentina and Nigeria. Group G: Germany and United States. Group H: Belgium and Russia.
The U.S. National Team will be testing themselves against the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next summer and are already relishing the opportunity to tackle a “Group of Death.”
During a media scrum at a World Cup draw watch party at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Omar Gonzalez and other U.S. national team members remarked about the Americans’ placement in Group G. One highlight for Gonzalez will be another chance to take on one of the planet’s finest players in Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I faced him for the Galaxy once before and that was fun, but I think he’s going to be even harder playing for his country in this tournament,” Gonzalez told reporters of his bouts with Ronaldo in 2010 and 2012 friendlies. “I think it’s going to be awesome and it should be a fun time.”
Even though Gonzalez will be looking to make his first-ever World Cup roster, the Galaxy defender admitted that he correctly anticipated where the U.S. would fall upon learning the first two participants in Group G.
“Once Germany and Ghana got paired together I figured this is probably going to be us,” Gonzalez admitted. “Fate’s going to align, and it’s all going to happen.”
CARSON, Calif. – Clint Mathis knows a little something about playing – and excelling – at the World Cup and after watching the U.S. National Team’s draw for the 2014 edition in Brazil, he believes the Americans can advance from their “Group of Death.”
Mathis, who appeared in two games during the U.S. National Team’s run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, which included a stunning goal against South Korea helping the Americans to a 1-1 draw. During that tournament, the Americans faced two of their opponents for 2014 as they defeated Portugal 3-2—with Mathis watching from the bench—in their group stage opener while falling 1-0 to eventual tournament runner-up Germany in the quarterfinals.
Mathis’ thoughts on the U.S. National Team’s World Cup draw for Brazil is below…
MATHIS: “Obviously, we’ve definitely seen quite a few of these teams in the last few World Cups. Obviously, Germany is going to be a favorite, but I think in the past, the U.S. has done well against those guys. The one particular team that they haven’t been too successful with is Ghana, but being knocked out of the last two World Cups by the same team, maybe the third time is the charm for the U.S. It’s going to be the first game so I think that a lot will be on the line, but if the U.S. can get a result in that first game that would definitely change the whole outcome of the group. Then there’s Portugal, who we were successful against in 2002 in the first group stage game. It’s two different teams though and Portugal is not a team that you can sit back on. It’s in my opinion, the toughest group if not the toughest then it is the second toughest. If you’re playing in a World Cup, it’s never easy so I don’t think there’s not too much to worry about because every game is going to be tough no matter what group you’re in. The good thing is if the U.S. gets out of this group stages, I think it should be easier when normally it gets harder.”
(On what is running through the players’ minds about facing Ghana once again…)
MATHIS: “I think there’s a lot of excitement. If you look at guys like Landon or other guys who have been put out by the same team, I think there’s a lot of excitement on the revenge side. They’re saying ‘hey, we’ve got them in a group stage not a knockout stage’ so I think there’s some excitement to get some revenge because you can say ‘hey, you know what. Everyone is already going to count us out, we’re the underdogs’ and I think that’s not a bad mindset to go into this World Cup like we’ve got nothing to lose because no one is thinking that the U.S. can get out of his group right now.”
(On whether the U.S. group stage is similar to what he faced during the 2002 World Cup…)
MATHIS: “I think so. Everyone thought that the U.S. had no chance to get out of our group and we did well. I think there is something to say because these other teams are going to be fighting too. Portugal is sitting saying ‘why am I in this group?’ Ghana is saying the same thing and Germany is going ‘are you kidding me?’ Anything can happen in these games and no one is going to want to play against the U.S. per say because of the athleticism and the results that they could turn out. I think that it is going to be a tough group and I don’t think that any of the teams are too excited to be in this group.”
The U.S. National Team received an extremely difficult draw for the 2014 World Cup as they were placed in Group G alongside Germany, Ghana and Portugal.
The U.S. will open the tournament on June 16 in Arena das Dunas against Brazil before facing Portugal in the Amazon city of Manaus on June 22. They'll complete the group stage in Recife against Germany on June 26.
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena a former national team boss, U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez and former U.S. international Clint Mathis each provided an instant analysis of the draw on Instagram.
Check it out below.
The U.S. National Team is returning to Southern California.
U.S. Soccer announced on Monday that the U.S. will face Korea Republic on Feb. 1 at StubHub Center concluding their annual winter training camp. The match will be the first game for the U.S. in a busy 2014 that will see them -- and Korea Republic -- complete in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
“As a team that has qualified for Brazil, the Korea Republic will be another great benchmark for us,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann in a statement. “They bring a different style of play than we have seen in the last two years, and that gives us a chance to grow. With only two or three games left before May, this will be an important opportunity for the players who will be finishing off the January camp. The message will be the same one we start with every time we get together: we are here to win.”
Both LA Galaxy stalwarts Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez are likely to be called up for the January training camp. According to Steve Davis at ProSoccerTalk, the U.S. will open up training camp on Jan. 6 at StubHub Center before departing for Brazil on Jan. 12 where they will train in Sao Paulo at their base for the World Cup until Jan. 25 before returning to Southern California.
The match will be first game between the two countries since their 1-1 draw at the 2002 FIFA World Cup when former Galaxy attacker Clint Mathis scored a stunning goal in the tie.
Check it out below.
A touching video is making the rounds this weekend of LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane meeting a young Irish soccer fan named Domhnall on Ireland's annual holiday institution The Late Late Toy Show.
Keane, who was still on crutches after his surgery earlier in the week, met with the child -- who is hoping that the Galaxy captain gets well soon in time to lead Ireland in their 2016 Euro campaign -- and presenter Ryan Tubridy in the video below.
Check it out.
CARSON, Calif. – Back after a knee infection caused him to miss two training sessions and a reserve match, Kofi Opare is eager to fill the starting spot vacated by Omar Gonzalez, who is currently away on international duty.
Opare has become a regular on LA’s game day roster since the start of August and performed well during his first competitive start for the club in their 3-0 victory over C.S. Cartaginés earlier this month. However, Opare was unable to get in the squad in LA’s 3-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes and the subsequent reserve match due to a knee infection called cellulitis.
Even though the injury cost him a reserve league appearance, Opare believes that it didn’t hurt his sharpness.
“I’m just glad to be back in training,” said Opare. “The good thing was that even with the injury, I was still able to run and even though I wasn’t in training, I was still able to do fitness work and keep my sharpness.”
It’s vitally important that Opare is fit and ready because with Gonzalez away on international duty, the 22-year-old is in the midst of a battle for a starting role with the likes of Tommy Meyer, A.J. DeLaGarza, and possibly even Pablo Mastroeni.
“With Omar gone, the center back is spot and players are competing for that spot. I’m trying to do that same thing so that I can impress the coaches so I get that spot,” said Opare. “To be honest, I still go through the same steps that I do every week. I just want to come in with the attitude to work hard and play well in practice. Nothing changes. Now there is a spot and we’re all competing, I just want to bring the same attitude.”